Negative Preposing: Intervention and Parametric Variation in Complement Clauses

  • Ángel Luis Jiménez-Fernández Universidad de Sevilla


This work deals with root transformations (RTs) such as negative preposing in English and Spanish. I claim that RTs may in principle be compatible with all types of embedded clauses, regardless of whether the selecting predicate is factive/non-asserted or non-factive/asserted.  Languages differ in how freely they allow RTs in various types of complements. Adopting an intervention account, according to which the movement of an operator to Spec-CP intervenes with other types of movement, including RTs, I account for the variation in the distribution of English/Spanish negative preposing by certain options made possible as a result of feature inheritance of discourse features. It is well known that the distribution of RTs in English is extremely limited, while in Spanish the same operations are possible in many more constructions. In Spanish, discourse features may be inherited from complementizer (C) to tense (T) such that negative preposing targets Spec-TP, and hence there is no intervention effect. In contrast, discourse features stay at C in English, meaning that negative preposing competes for the target position with the operator movement to CP, and this gives rise to intervention. This hypothesis is explored and validated through an experiment with informants of the two languages.Keywords: negative preposing; intervention; factivity/assertedness; feature inheritance; root transformations

Author Biography

Ángel Luis Jiménez-Fernández, Universidad de Sevilla
Ángel Luis Jiménez-Fernández is Associate Professor in the Department of English Language at the University of Seville, where he has been teaching courses on syntax for twenty-three years. His feld of expertise is the contrastive analysis of English and Spanish, within Generative Grammar, and he has published in journals with high-impact factors such as Lingua (Elsevier), Ampersand (Elsevier), Linguistics (De Gruyter) and The Linguistic Review (De Gruyter).


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